SDMC pulls down political hoardings and banners

first_imgNew Delhi: SDMC has been taking swift action against hoardings, banners and posters in its all 4 zones keeping in view of the implementation of code of conduct immediately after announcement of 2019 general elections in the country. Under this action, all publicity material related to political matters/ elections are being removed. Under Najafgarh zone, 2,127 hoardings, banners/posters, 1,162 in central zone, 214 in west zone and 259 hoardings, banners/posters in South Zone have been removed; in all total 3,762 hoardings and posters have been removed. It is also stated that since announcement general election till Wednesday total 97,594 hoardings, banners/posters have been removed; the zone wise break up is the highest 33,384 in Najafgarh Zone, followed by 32,154 in Central Zone, 18,273 in South Zone and 13,783 in West Zone.last_img read more

CPIM heavyweights keen to join BJP Partha Chatterjee

first_imgKolkata: Trinamool Congress secretary general Partha Chatterjee said on Saturday that some heavyweight CPI(M) leaders are keen to join the BJP which has become clear with leaders like Khagen Murmu and Mahfuza Khatun joining the saffron party.”A number of ground-level and middle-level CPI(M) leaders have been constantly shifting to the BJP for the last few years. But now, we are witnessing that openly with some senior leaders of the party running after the BJP leaders. The cases of Khagen Murmu and Mahfuza Khatun shifting to the saffron party just before the elections is a clear pointer. The leadership lacks organisational strength and the CPI(M) should try to prevent this trend of their party people rubbing shoulders with the BJP,” Chatterjee said at ‘Meet the Press’ programme hosted by Calcutta Press Club. Chatterjee’s reactions came in reply to a poser when CPI(M) state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra alleging that TMC and BJP are having a tacit understanding. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari Puja”No other leader from the country has been fighting against the anti-people policies of the BJP government so strongly like our party supremo Mamata Banerjee. The people of the country are well aware of this,” he reiterated. It may be mentioned that Murmu, who was the former CPI(M) MLA from Habibpur in Malda, had already contested the Lok Sabha elections from Malda North with a BJP ticket. He had joined the BJP in March. Khatun, who was an elected CPI(M) MLA from Kumarganj Assembly constituency in 2001 and 2006, left the party to contest with a BJP ticket from Jangipur parliamentary constituency. Khatun had, however, lost to Trinamool Congress during the 2011 and 2016 Assembly elections. Chatterjee alleged that the BJP is trying to influence the functioning of the Election Commission to function in a partial manner. “I have never seen earlier in Bengal that seven officers at the Inspector level are being removed just before the polls. The BJP knows very well that they will not win a single seat and in frustration, they are trying to use the Commission to do such things,” he said.last_img read more

Tunisia awaits independent cabinet to oversee new elections

first_imgby Antoine LAMBROSCHINITUNIS- Tunisia was waiting Friday for the president to task Premier-designate Mehdi Jomaa with forming a cabinet of independents to lead the country to fresh elections after the Islamist-led government finally quit.Outgoing Prime Minister Ali Larayedh’s resignation on Thursday, under an agreement to end months of political deadlock and get Tunisia’s democratic transition back on track, comes nearly three years after veteran strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s overthrow in the first Arab Spring uprising. The new premier, who is a relative political novice, will have to confront mounting social unrest and the persistent threat of jihadist violence, in a political climate that remains tense.President Moncef Marzouki is now expected to ask the head of the ruling Islamist Ennahda party, Rachid Ghannouchi, to submit a candidate, with Jomaa nominated as the consensus choice to head the interim administration during crisis negotiations last month.The little-known industry minister will have 15 days to form his cabinet, which must be then approved by the national assembly.The Tunisian press welcomed Larayedh’s departure with relief, while also stressing the challenges that his successor faces.Shortly before his resignation, Larayedh announced the suspension of a new vehicle tax which came into force this year and has triggered strikes and nationwide protests, notably in the country’s impoverished interior where the 2011 uprising began.Poverty and unemployment were driving factors behind the revolution that unseated Ben Ali and remain pressing problems in Tunisia, amid lackluster economic growth and an unemployment rate of more than 30 percent among school leavers.Another key issue for Jomaa is the threat posed by armed jihadists, blamed for the assassination of two opposition politicians last year, which triggered the latest political crisis and finally forced the departure of the Ennahda-led government.“The hardest part has just begun,” warned Tunisian daily Le Quotidien, saying Jomaa had inherited a “poisoned chalice.”“With uprisings in all corners of the country, an ailing economy and a precarious situation, the future government will have its work cut out,” it said.Ahead of its formation, the national assembly is pushing ahead with the adoption of a long-delayed new constitution, voting on it intensively article by article.“We will work on it day and night,” said parliament speaker Mustapha Ben Jafaa on Thursday evening. “Maybe we’ll have a nice surprise and the constitution will be adopted on January 13,” the eve of the anniversary of the revolution.The “general principles” and the essential “rights and freedoms” in the charter have already been approved, although other chapters, including on the functioning of public institutions, have yet to be ratified.Lawmakers began examining those chapters on Friday, starting with legislative powers.There has been major progress on the issue of women’s rights, with the assembly passing an article last week that enshrines gender equality, and another on Thursday that commits the state to promoting equality of representation in elected bodies.There had been fears among secular politicians, which Ennahda has been at pains to disprove, that it would seek to roll back the extensive rights that women have enjoyed in Tunisia since independence, compared with the rest of the Arab world.The formation of an independent authority to oversee fresh elections, which the Islamists had set as a condition for stepping down, finally took place on Wednesday.last_img read more

Which Players Will Be Most Affected by the Hall of Fames New

As Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas celebrated their inductions in Cooperstown this weekend, the Baseball Hall of Fame announced a change that will make it harder for others to join them. Instead of having 15 years of eligibility for consideration by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA), players will now be limited to 10.1A player becomes eligible five years after retirement. If he doesn’t receive at least 5 percent of the votes the first year, he’s excluded from future ballots.One theory is that the change is designed to exclude players like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, who are known or suspected to have used performance-enhancing drugs.2Retired players such as Alan Trammell who have already appeared on at least 10 ballots will be exempt from the rule. But Bonds and Clemens, who joined the ballot in 2013, won’t be. But an attempt to target Bonds and Clemens could produce collateral damage. Players such as Curt Schilling, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina and Larry Walker — who are not strongly associated with PED use — could also be less likely to get in.Take the case of Mussina, who received 20 percent of the vote on this year’s ballot, his first year of eligibility. He might seem like a hopeless case — players need 75 percent of the vote to be elected to the Hall of Fame. But players generally gain ground the longer they remain on the ballot. Sometimes they need the full 15 years to get there.Consider other players who received somewhere between 15 and 25 percent of the vote in their first eligible season. There were 16 such players between 1966, when the Hall of Fame began holding elections every year instead of every other one, and 2000, the most recent class of players to have exhausted their 15-year eligibility window:Two of these players, Don Drysdale and Billy Williams, gained ground quickly enough to be elected to the Hall of Fame within their first 10 eligible seasons.Another three — Bruce Sutter, Bert Blyleven and Duke Snider — were elected by the BBWAA at some point between their 11th and 15th eligible seasons.One player, Red Schoendienst, was elected later by the Veterans Committee.The 10 remaining players — Gil Hodges, Jack Morris, Roger Maris, Tommy John, Mickey Lolich, Jim Kaat, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Thurmon Munson and Tony Oliva — have not yet made the Hall of Fame, though some are plausible candidates for election by the Veterans Committee at a later date.So by a quick-and-dirty rendering, Mussina’s chances of getting elected to the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA have been sliced from 5 in 16 (representing the five players who made it within 15 seasons) to 2 in 16 (only Drysdale and Williams made it within their first 10 seasons). He might also have some chances with the Veterans Committee. But the Veterans Committee has been stingy about electing players in recent years. The point is that players like Mussina need all the chances they can get.We can formalize this analysis by running a set of logistic regressions that estimate a player’s likelihood of eventually making the Hall of Fame based on his performance in his first year on the BBWAA ballot. First, I ran a regression to consider whether players were selected by the BBWAA within 15 seasons.3As in the Mussina example, this regression considered all players who first appeared on the ballot between 1966 and 2000. I excluded players who were elected in their first year, or who received less than 5 percent of the vote in the first year, as these players have been automatically dropped from the ballot since 1985. Then I ran another regression to evaluate whether players made it within their first 10 eligible seasons. (Among players who first appeared on the ballot in 1966 or later, those who were elected by the BBWAA somewhere between their 11th and 15th seasons were Snider, Sutter, Blyleven and Jim Rice.)4For this regression, I included players who first appeared on the ballot from 2001 through 2005, in addition to those between 1966 and 2000, since they’ve had 10 years to be elected. Finally, I considered whether players made the Hall of Fame at all — whether through the BBWAA or the Veterans Committee.5In this case, I included all players who first appeared on the ballot from 1966 through 1995 — players who began appearing on the ballot after 1995 have not yet been eligible for consideration by the Veterans Committee, as best I can tell. For this regression only, I also included players who received less than 5 percent of the vote in their first year on the ballot — a few of these players (Richie Ashburn, Larry Doby and Ron Santo) were eventually elected by the Veterans Committee. The results are represented in the chart below.To read the chart, scan across until you find a player’s vote share in his first year of eligibility — then scan up to see where the various curves intersect it. For instance, for a player like Mussina who got 20 percent of the vote in his first year:There is a 10 percent chance he gets elected within his first 10 years of BBWAA eligibility, according to the regression analysis. (This is the yellow curve.)There is a 23 percent chance he gets elected within the 15-year eligibility window. (The red curve.)There is a 34 percent chance he gets elected by either the BBWAA or eventually by the Veterans Committee. (The blue curve.)These answers aren’t too far from the quick-and-dirty numbers that I came up with before. They suggest that Mussina is an underdog to make the Hall of Fame — but more of an underdog now that he’ll have only 10 years of eligibility to do so.What about a player — such as Bonds — who got 36 percent of the vote in his first season of eligibility?He’d have a 53 percent chance of being elected by the BBWAA within 10 years.His odds of being elected within 15 years are higher — 69 percent.He has an 89 percent chance of being elected by some means — either the BBWAA or the Veterans Committee.So a player like this will also see his chances of being elected by the BBWAA decrease with the rule change. But he has a much better backstop: The Veterans Committee has usually elected players like this even when they were bypassed by the writers. That hasn’t been true for players like Mussina.Of course, Bonds and Clemens are no ordinary cases — and this method may not do a very good job of describing their chances. There are a couple of other objections that we need to consider first, however.One is that the change in rules could affect voter behavior. Players sometimes receive a boost in their vote share in their 15th and final year of eligibility. Now, knowing that it’s their last chance, the writers could rally around a player in his 10th year instead.That might protect a few players — Snider, for instance, got 71 percent of the vote in his 10th year of eligibility and might have made it then if a few more writers thought it was their last opportunity to elect him. But Blyleven had only 48 percent of the vote in his 10th year. His case, which was pushed by stat-savvy baseball fans for years, needed some extra time to marinate.Another consideration is that rotating players off the ballot sooner could clear slots for more recently retired players. BBWAA voters are limited to naming 10 players on their ballots. A few of them might have run out of room for Mussina this year, for instance, because they were reserving space for Alan Trammell, Jack Morris, or other players between their 11th and 15th years of eligibility.Indeed, this could be of some help to players like Mussina. But there would be a more direct means of providing relief — by liberalizing or eliminating the 10-player limit. Players from the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s are badly underrepresented in the Hall of Fame relative to players who had the good fortune to be born earlier.The rule change, in other words, seems designed to make the Hall of Fame more exclusive, not less so. But how might it affect Bonds and Clemens in particular?As I mentioned, they aren’t ordinary cases. For a player like Mussina, a large fraction of the BBWAA electorate might be thought of as “swing voters” — they could live with him in the Hall of Fame or without. Given how strong feelings are on the issue of performance-enhancing drugs, the choice is likely to be much more binary for Bonds and Clemens. For that reason, their vote shares might not increase as much in future seasons. (Another PED user, Mark McGwire, has been on the ballot for eight seasons and has seen his vote share decrease in almost every one.) Personally, I’d wager a fair amount of money against Bonds or Clemens ever being elected to the Hall of Fame by the writers, whether in 10 years or 15.Nevertheless, baseball’s hive mind could change its stance on PED use with the benefit of hindsight. It’s not that hard to conceive of alternate realities. NFL players who were suspended for PED use, like the former San Diego Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman, barely seem to suffer any lasting damage to their reputations. (Merriman made the Pro Bowl in 2006, the same year he was suspended for four games.)One scenario could involve a known PED user who is otherwise a more sympathetic case than Bonds or Clemens making the Hall of Fame.6Or a player who is already in the Hall of Fame could disclose his PED use. For instance, Andy Pettitte, who admitted to using human growth hormone, is due to become eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2019. Pettitte’s case is not clear-cut on the statistical merits, but suppose he made it in 2023, his fifth year on the ballot. Under the old rules, Bonds and Clemens would have had a few years left on the ballot with that precedent in place. Now, they’ll already have exhausted their eligibility.Bonds and Clemens would still be eligible for consideration by the Veterans Committee. But whatever misgivings you might have about the BBWAA, the Veterans Committee has been far more problematic. Its rules are constantly changing, its process is not very transparent, and it has oscillated from being far too liberal to being very stingy about letting in players. Depending on the rules it drew up, the Hall of Fame could design a Veterans Committee that was relatively sympathetic to Bonds or Clemens — or firmly opposed to their election.Another theory is that the Hall of Fame doesn’t have strong feelings about Bonds and Clemens per se, but implemented the rule change in the hopes of putting the PED issue behind it sooner. It’s certainly not good advertising for Cooperstown when discussions are dominated every year by arguments over steroids.But these cases won’t go away anytime soon. Pettitte will become eligible in a few years — and a few years after him, Alex Rodriguez. Ryan Braun, another known PED user who could eventually build Hall of Fame statistics, is many years from retirement. In the meantime, players like Mussina could be caught in the crossfire. read more

The Teams That Should — And Shouldnt — Trade For Jimmy Butler

Jimmy Butler37.6– MINNEAPOLIS — Jimmy Butler, the four-time All-Star who asked to be traded out of Minnesota, is an NBA alpha — or, at worst, a dominant beta.Butler is one of the league’s best two-way talents, capable of changing a game on offense or defense. He has developed a hard-nosed reputation as someone who can quickly change the culture of a team. The 29-year-old should be a near-ideal trade target for just about any team still looking to make a jump as NBA training camps open this week.Yet for all his undeniable star power, the reality is that Butler would be an ideal fit with only a few of the teams that are most interested in his services. Much of that stems from how unique a player he is — and the two or three red flags that would make his acquisition more of a gamble than usual.The list of teams that have expressed interest in dealing for Butler includes the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Clippers — a pair of teams Butler likes — as well as the Pistons, Rockets, Heat, Sixers, Blazers and Kings, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.But realistically, trading for Butler is not an automatic win for all these teams. The size of his contract, the type of role he demands to play and the assets that will be required to obtain him make the trade a significant gamble. From that list, there are maybe four (the Clippers, Pistons, Heat and Blazers) where the move seems worth the risk. For others, there are clear pitfalls that could render such a move disastrous.Perhaps the most glaring issue to consider is the amount of time Butler has played over the past five seasons: an NBA-high 37.6 minutes per game in that span1This is almost identical to the minutes load that Luol Deng — whose game has since begun flattening out — carried from age 24 through age 28. Deng, who also played for Tom Thibodeau, logged 38.1 minutes per game during those years. and 26 games in which he logged at least 45 minutes since 2013-14 — 11 games more than the next player on the list, per Basketball-Reference.com. PlayerMinutes per gameNumber of 45 Min. Games LeBron James36.8– Butler is racking up mileageNBA leaders in number of 45-minute games since the 2013-14 season, along with their average minutes per game* 13– 10– 26– Bradley Beal34.3– Anthony Davis35.9– 11– All of that could factor into how someone like Butler — who relies mostly on his physicality instead of his jump shot — ages as a player. But last season alone was less than ideal from a health standpoint. After ranking at the top of the minutes per game leaderboard in late February, Butler went down with a right knee injury that required surgery. And while injuries are often an unpredictable thing, Butler’s wasn’t the biggest shock in the world. He had missed four games in January with a sore right knee that might have required an MRI, and then Butler took the unusual step of sitting out the All-Star game the following month, citing a need for rest. Five days later, he was hurt to the point that he required the procedure on his meniscus.Butler takes on grueling tasks as someone who’s often the primary ball-handler — particularly in the clutch, where his aggressive style drew more free-throw trips than any player — and who guards the other team’s best scorer. And the potential for injuries to slow a player down as he reaches his 30s should give any club pause before sinking assets into a deal for him — let alone signing him to a max extension worth five years and $190 million in 2019, when he’s due to become a free agent.Zooming all the way out for a moment, let’s be clear: Butler is absolutely worth a sizable gamble from merely a talent perspective. His coach, Tom Thibodeau — who thinks so highly of Butler that he reportedly asked him on Monday to reconsider his trade request — called the swingman a “top-10 player in the league.”On the night of Feb. 23, when Butler suffered his knee injury, the Timberwolves were tied for third place in the loaded West. By the time he came back came back six weeks later, they’d slipped to eighth. Minnesota needed to win its last three games of the season — including a thrilling win-and-you’re-in finale against Denver — to secure the franchise’s first playoff trip in 14 years.With Butler, the Wolves were arguably a top-three team in the NBA, outscoring opponents by more than 8 points per 100 possessions;2For reference, only the Rockets and Warriors outscored opponents by 8 points per 100 possessions last season. without him, the club had the profile of a bottom-10 squad, hemorrhaging nearly 5 points per 100 possessions. Not many stars, or even superstars, possess that kind of game-changing impact.Still, there’s a pretty compelling case to be made that Butler simply doesn’t make sense on certain clubs — particularly young, developing ones, with whom he might lack patience. He frustrated younger teammates in Chicago two seasons ago when he questioned whether they cared as much as he did about winning, a critique that led to coach Fred Hoiberg benching him to start a game. Then this past year in Minnesota, reports suggested that Butler didn’t always see eye-to-eye with young star Karl-Anthony Towns. (Towns finally agreed to his five-year, $190 million extension in the wake of Butler’s trade request, which lent credence to the report. But Towns on Monday chalked it up to “awkward” timing and coincidence, saying the issues were unrelated.) Taking that into account, a young team like the Nets or the Kings — still in the developmental phases — wouldn’t seem to be ideal for Butler.The other thing worth considering with Butler, especially in Houston, Philadelphia or Portland, is how he’d fit alongside another ball-dominant guard. That experiment didn’t play out all that well when the Bulls had both Butler and Derrick Rose sharing the backcourt, and reports bubbled to the surface about there being a bit of a power struggle because of the lack of clarity in their roles.There’d be no such question with the Clippers or Heat. And the Pistons and Blazers desperately need talent upgrades to enhance their standing in their respective conferences — something that’s especially true of Portland, even if there would be questions about Butler’s fit with Damian Lillard.Few NBA players can impact a game the way Butler can. But given what we know about the talented guard, only a few teams would be smart to move heaven and earth to trade for him right now. 15– *Regular season onlySource: Basketball-Reference.com James Harden37.0– read more

WestJet case threatens 26 years no measles in TCI

first_imgFacebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp Related Items:#26yearsnomeaslesinTCIthreatened, #magneticmedianews, #WestJetcrewmeaslesscare Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsAppTurks and Caicos, April 11, 2017 – Providenciales – The Ministry of Health explains that the possible reintroduction of measles into the country through an airline worker last month is being taken seriously and an investigation into the potential impact was launched.   The crew member from WestJest who was confirmed to have measles did not deplane when the flight from Canada landed in Providenciales.The information comes following the Ministry of Health’s investigation into the case, unofficially reported to them, but confirmed by the Canadian Public Health Agency through the assistance of PAHO.   A worker for WestJest on March 24 flew into Provo and was days later found to have had measles.   The crew member worked seven flights, and although the crew member did not deplane, because of the contact with passengers, who were visitors in the island, it is still necessary for the surveillance system to be vigilant and extra sensitive to detect any secondary cases early.Measles has not been seen in the TCI for 26 years explained the Ministry of Health, which also reported that 95% of residents are covered with the MMR vaccine.   The Surveillance team called the possible re-introduction of measles a threat to the resident population and to the over one million guests who visit annually.Health is asking anyone who believes they may have been exposed to measles to contact a primary health care clinic nurse, right away.#MagneticMediaNews#26yearsnomeaslesinTCIthreatened#WestJetcrewmeaslesscarelast_img read more

New report highlights overtime staffing issues facing SD FireRescue

first_img KUSI Newsroom New report highlights overtime, staffing issues facing SD Fire-Rescue Categories: Local San Diego News FacebookTwitter Posted: February 13, 2019 00:00 00:00 spaceplay / pause qunload | stop ffullscreenshift + ←→slower / faster ↑↓volume mmute ←→seek  . seek to previous 12… 6 seek to 10%, 20% … 60% XColor SettingsAaAaAaAaTextBackgroundOpacity SettingsTextOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundSemi-TransparentOpaqueTransparentFont SettingsSize||TypeSerif MonospaceSerifSans Serif MonospaceSans SerifCasualCursiveSmallCapsResetSave SettingsSAN DIEGO (KUSI)- An independent audit highlights how much San Diego Fire-Rescue is spending on overtime for its firefighters.Joining KUSI to discuss those overtime and staffing issues facing his department is Fire-Rescue Chief Colin Stowell.For more information on the audit: https://bit.ly/2DyGYdZ center_img KUSI Newsroom, Updated: 6:33 PM February 13, 2019last_img read more

Former RBI Editor to Head New Association Magazine

first_imgAIMCAL says Converting Quarterly will include several technical Q+A columns and technical-journal stories on web-handling, coating/laminating and finishing processes and products. “AIMCAL decided to do a print edition of Converting Quarterly in addition to a Web site and e-newsletter because we believe that the combination of print and electronic deliverables is the best distribution platform to deliver technical content,” AIMCAL executive director Craig Sheppard tells FOLIO:. “The print format not only reproduces highly readable illustrations, schematics and tables of data, but is likely to be saved for future reference by a significant percentage of subscribers. It is our view that building on the unique strengths of both print and electronic media provides the best distribution platform.”Before joining Converting Quarterly, Spaulding served as editor-in-chief of RBI’s Converting for 15 years. Prior to that, he served in various roles for Packaging and Prepared Foods magazines. AIMCAL says. Mark Spaulding, the longtime editor of Reed Business Information’s now-shuttered Converting magazine, has been tapped by the Association of International Metallizers, Coaters and Laminators to serve as associate publisher and editor-in-chief of its official magazine, Converting Quarterly. The new magazine is slated to launch in February 2011 and target the web-processing, converting and finishing industry.The print edition of the magazine will carry a 15,000 circulation. A weekly e-newsletter called Converting Quarterly E-News is expected to be sent to 7,500.Topeka, Kansas-based niche magazine publisher Peterson Publications will provide advertising circulation, design, production, printing and mailing support for the magazine. Peterson’s other publications include InsideFinishing, Plastics Decorating and The Binding Edge.last_img read more

Qualcomm forms 280 million JV in China to design and sell server

first_imgChipmaker Qualcomm and the provincial government of Guizhou in China on Sunday unveiled a $280 million joint venture for the design, development and sale of advanced server technology.The US-based global semiconductor company signed a strategic agreement with the Guizhou province government and announced a joint venture with Huaxintong Semi-Conductor Technology Co Ltd with initial capital of 1.85 billion renminbi (approximately $281 million) Reuters reported.”Qualcomm will establish an investment company in Guizhou that will serve as a vehicle for future investments in China”, the provincial government and the company said in a joint statement.Derek Aberle, president of Qualcomm Inc, said the company wants to “deepen its cooperation and investment in China”. Thus, cooperation agreement, joint venture and formation of an investment company will be important for the company.Qualcomm was reportedly licensing its server technology with the help of research and development and would also supply expertise to implement the venture, Reuters added in its report.”This underscores our commitment as a strategic partner in China,” Aberle said. Under the joint venture, Guizhou would own 55% of the new company and 45% will be owned by Qualcomm subsidiary, according to a report by Venture Beat.The company plans to make ARM-based processors for servers in data centres.Last October, the company had announced that it conducted a live demo of its server development platform. It would also collaborate with chip-making companies Xilinx and Mellanox. This would give China a chance to build its own chip industry.”This server technology joint venture is a win-win scenario for Qualcomm and our Guizhou partner and will yield mutual benefits for both sides as we together pursue a very large data center opportunity in China,” said Anand Chandrasekhar, Senior Vice President and General Manager for Qualcomm Data Center Group, in a statement, Venture Beat report added.last_img read more

BSNL privatisation Salary delay worsening fiscal crisis intensify speculation

first_imgA woman walks past a logo of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) painted on a wall outside its office in Kolkata, India. A delay in payment of July salaries to BSNL staff has intensified speculation about the timing of the public sector telecom player’s privatization.REUTERS/Rupak De ChowdhuriThe failure to pay the staff of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) their salaries for July has triggered fresh speculation about the privatisation of the public sector telecom providers.Industry observers claim the government’s focus shifted to BSNL and MTNL after speeding up the privatisation procedures of national carrier Air India. The government has ordered Air India to freeze all appointments and promotions, setting the field for the privatization process.For the first time after Prime Minister Narendra Modi swept back to power, BSNL reportedly failed to pay its 1.76 lakh employees on time. The two public sector units (PSUs) had delayed salaries for February until mid-March due to a financial crisis. The BSNL had then said that it used its internal accruals to clear the pending salaries.The government, during its earlier stint, had held back sanction to the public sector telecom player for introducing 4G services, handing a major advantage to private-sector competitors. The government has also dithered on a decision to allow its participation in the imminent 5G trials.While BSNL chairman and managing director PK Purwar said that employees will get the July salary this week, an employees’ union leader said that no information had been shared by the management about early salary payment, according to PTI. “Salary for the month of July has not come. There is also no information when will it be credited,” the report quoted the All India Unions and Associations of BSNL (AUAB) convenor, P Abhimanyu, as saying. BSNL has continued to lose customers to private-sector competition as delayed government decisions have blocked the updating of its services.Facebook/ ReutersPurwar told the news agency that employees would get the salary in this week. “Funds are being arranged through internal accruals,” Purwar said. BSNL has 1.76 lakh employees across the country and MTNL about 22,000 employees.This is for the first time that the two public sector companies have defaulted on paying the staff on time after the new government took charge. The BSNL needs Rs 750 crore to Rs 850 crore for salaries while the MTNL needs around Rs 160 crore. The report said the MTNL Human Resource and Enterprise Business director Sunil Kumar said the company was in the process of collecting some dues after which the salary would be paid on a priority basis “very soon”.last_img read more

Broward Sheriff Under Scrutiny For Handling Of Parkland Shooting

first_img Share Mark Wilson/Getty ImagesSome Republican lawmakers in Florida are calling on Gov. Rick Scott to remove Broward Sheriff Scott Israel. The sheriff (center) and Scott (right) are seen here on Feb. 15, the day after the shooting.Florida Gov. Rick Scott has ordered an investigation into law enforcement’s response to the shooting in Parkland earlier this month.Broward Sheriff Scott Israel is under scrutiny for how his office handled complaints it received about Cruz in the years before the shooting, as well as reports that deputies failed to act during the shooting itself.Deputy Scot Peterson, armed with a handgun as the school resource officer, was placed on unpaid suspension and quickly resigned after video showed him standing outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School for more than four minutes during the rampage, rather than entering the building to engage the shooter.On Thursday, Israel criticized Peterson and said he was “sick to [his] stomach” at the deputy’s inaction.Also on Thursday, the Broward Sheriff’s Office released the details of the 18 to 20 calls it had received since 2008 concerning Cruz.Florida Speaker of the House Richard Corcoran, whom the Miami Herald notes is likely to run for governor, sent a letter to Gov. Scott on Sunday, calling for the sheriff’s immediate suspension. Scott, a Republican, ordered an investigation but has not suspended Israel, who is a Democrat.The FBI has already apologized for failing to act on a tip it received about shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz in January, and the governor called for the resignation of FBI Director Christopher Wray.Corcoran’s letter, signed by 73 state House Republicans, points to the litany of complaints the Broward Sheriff’s Office received about Cruz in recent years – about which, they write “[n]othing was done.” They say that Israel “failed to maintain a culture of alertness, vigilance, and thoroughness among his deputies,” and did not ensure that deputies had adequate active-shooter tactical training.In a letter to the governor, responding to a call on Saturday by state Rep. Bill Hager for him to resign, Israel defended his office’s response, saying “nearly all but two involved routine calls from [Cruz’s] mother relating to parenting issues (her sons were fighting; her son was banging pool equipment against the house; etc)” and none involved “arrestable offences.”But some of the calls paint a darker picture than routine parenting issues, including instances in which Linda Cruz said Nikolas threw her against the wall for taking away his Xbox, and a report by a school counselor that “Cruz was alleged to have possibly ingested gasoline prior in an attempt to commit suicide and is cutting himself. Cruz indicated he wished to purchase a gun for hunting and was in possession of items concerning hate related communications/ symbols.”In these two incidents, mental health counselors advised that Cruz did not meet the criteria for the Baker Act. That’s the Florida law that allows for emergency mental health treatment and evaluation, including involuntary detention for up to 72 hours if certain conditions are met. (Florida lawmakers are now proposing giving law enforcement the ability to confiscate firearms from people deemed to be a threat to themselves or others for 72 hours. During that time, authorities can seek a court order as part of the Baker Act to hold the firearms for 60 days or longer.)While he defends his office’s handling of most of the calls, Israel says internal affairs is investigating the response to two of them.One of those incidents involves a call in February 2016 about an Instagram photo of Cruz with guns, along with a concern that he “planned to shoot up the school.” A deputy responded, learned that Cruz possessed knives and a BB gun, and forwarded the information to the resource officer at Stoneman Douglas.In the second incident, a caller from Massachusetts reported in November that Cruz was collecting guns and knives, and the caller was concerned Cruz might kill himself and believed he could be “a school shooter in the making.”That call resulted in no report by the Broward Sheriff’s Office. A deputy instead referred the caller to the sheriff in Palm Beach County, where Cruz had moved.NBC and CNN reported on Saturday that Coral Springs police officers say that when they arrived at Stoneman Douglas, three sheriff’s deputies were present but had not entered the school. The sources told CNN the deputies had their pistols drawn and were waiting behind their vehicles. (The Coral Springs Police Department says that “any action or inaction … will be investigated thoroughly.”)Questioned about the report, Israel told CNN’s Tapper, “At this point, we have no reason to believe that anyone acted incorrectly or correctly. That’s what an investigation is. … And if they did things wrong, I will take care of business in a disciplinary matter, like I did with Peterson.”Tapper asked Israel how he responded to the call for him to resign.“Of course I won’t resign,” he replied, and called Hager’s letter politically motivated and full of mistakes.Tapper expressed surprise that Israel was not taking responsibility for his agency’s lack of action on the calls that it had received about Cruz.“I have given amazing leadership to this agency,” Israel said. “On 16 of those cases, our deputies did everything right. Our deputies have done amazing things. … In the five years I have been sheriff, we have taken the Broward Sheriff’s Office to a new level. I have worked with some of the bravest people I have ever met. One person — at this point, one person didn’t do what he should have done.”After the interview, the governor called for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate law enforcement’s response to the shooting.“BSO will fully cooperate with FDLE, as we believe in full transparency and accountability,” Israel said in a statement. “This independent, outside review will ensure public confidence in the findings.”Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.last_img read more

Free Kidney Health Assessments

first_imgNational Kidney Foundation of Maryland (NKF-MD)In conjunction with National Kidney Month, the National Kidney Foundation of Maryland (NKF-MD) will provide free Kidney Health Risk Assessments, on Mar. 8, at the Brancati Center Health Awareness Hub, 900 N. Washington St., Baltimore, Md. 21205.Open to the public, this free assessment helps identify adults at risk for chronic kidney disease and increases awareness of kidney disease risk factors in the community. Participants will receive brief consultations with physicians and dietitians to learn about kidney disease, as well as general nutrition and wellness guidelines.last_img read more

Cards Earn NFHCA National Academic Team Honors

first_imgThe Cards posted a 3.517 team GPA during the 2018 season. They posted a 13-6 overall record and finished the year ranked No. 14 in the NFHCA coaches’ poll after earning the No. 3 seed in the 2018 ACC Championship. The University of Louisville Field Hockey team was named to the 2018 ZAG Field Hockey/National Field Hockey Coaches Association National Academic Team Award list. This marks the eighth straight year Louisville has earned the honor.The Division I National Academic Team Award recognizes programs that earned a team grade-point average of 3.0 or higher during the fall semester of the 2018-19 school year.  Print Friendly Version Fans can follow Louisville Field Hockey on Twitter (@ULFieldHockey) at  https://twitter.com/ULFieldHockey and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ULFieldHockey Story Linkslast_img read more

State to reserve 30 seats in WBNUJS for domiciles

first_imgKolkata: Bengal government is going to reserve seats up to 30 percent for the students having domicile in the state and aspiring law students.Seats would also be reserved up to 5 percent for the poor meritorious students in the same field. The West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences (Amendment) Bill, 2018 has been passed in the Assembly on Tuesday. It would allow the state government to reserve the seats for the students from the state. Also Read – Rain batters Kolkata, cripples normal lifeMoloy Ghatak, the minister of Judicial and Law Department, said in the Assembly on Tuesday that there are many law aspirants in the state who are unable to pursue law studies due to poverty. The minister said many students from the state will get the opportunity once the law is enforced. Ghatak also clarified that the students would secure admission in West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences on the basis of merit — a test is conducted at the National level. Despite having being featured on the merit list, many poor but meritorious students cannot afford to study law. This had prompted the state government to amend the existing law of the state. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Mercedes car in Kolkata, 2 pedestrians killed”The students whose names would feature on the merit list but face economic challenges would be given the opportunity to study law by reserving seats up to 5 percent following the amendment. Seats would be reserved up to 30 percent for the students who have domicile in the state, if they find place on the National merit list,” Ghatak said in the Assembly. The minister also maintained that his department had approached Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee saying there are many students from Bengal who have been able to pursue law studies as they are economically challenged. After listening to the proposal, the Chief Minister assured that steps would be taken in this regard. It may be mentioned that earlier there was no provision in the law which could have allowed the state government to reserve seats for the candidates having domicile in the state. Some other states give opportunity to the students having domicile in their respective states, the minister told the House on Tuesday. While the Bill was tabled in the Assembly, Snehasish Chakraborty, a Trinamool Congress MLA said this move by the state government would be extremely beneficial for the students domiciled in the state. He also alleged that the Left Front government never thought of amending the law, paving way for the poor students to study law.last_img read more

Rep Cole to serve on two key House committees

first_img State Rep. Triston Cole has been appointed by Speaker Lee Chatfield to serve as vice chair of the House Government Operations Committee and as a member of the House Transportation Committee.The Government Operations Committee will be one of just four main committees with the authority to advance legislation to the House floor during the 2019-20 legislative session.Cole, who was previously selected by his colleagues to serve as majority floor leader for the next two years, said he is pleased to have an opportunity to continue working on a wide range of issues. As majority floor leader, Cole will help decide which proposals are considered by legislators and lead parliamentary procedure on the House floor, among other duties.“While the bulk of my time will be spent managing the day-to-day operations of the House floor activities, I am also looking forward to continuing work on issues important to Northern Michigan families,” said Cole, of Mancelona. “Michigan has come a long way in the last four years, but there’s more work to be done. I’m honored to play a leading role in our continued effort to make Michigan a better place to live, work and play.”Cole, in his third House term, has more than 20 years of leadership experience at the state and local level. He previously chaired the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee during the 2017-18 term.### Categories: Cole News 17Jan Rep. Cole to serve on two key House committeeslast_img read more

Last month a group of Australian scientists publi

first_imgLast month, a group of Australian scientists published a warning to the citizens of the country and of the world who collectively gobble up some $34 billion annually of its agricultural exports. The warning concerned the safety of a new type of wheat. As Australia’s number-one export, a $6-billion annual industry, and the most-consumed grain locally, wheat is of the utmost importance to the country. A serious safety risk from wheat – a mad wheat disease of sorts – would have disastrous effects for the country and for its customers. Which is why the alarm bells are being rung over a new variety of wheat being ushered toward production by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) of Australia. In a sense, the crop is little different than the wide variety of modern genetically modified foods. A sequence of the plant’s genes has been turned off to change the wheat’s natural behavior a bit, to make it more commercially viable (hardier, higher yielding, slower decaying, etc.). Franken-Wheat? What’s really different this time – and what has Professor Jack Heinemann of the University of Canterbury, NZ, and Associate Professor Judy Carman, a biochemist at Flinders University in Australia, holding press conferences to garner attention to the subject – is the technique employed to effectuate the genetic change. It doesn’t modify the genes of the wheat plants in question; instead, a specialized gene blocker interferes with the natural action of the genes. The process at issue, dubbed RNA interference or RNAi for short, has been a hotbed of research activity ever since the Nobel Prize-winning 1997 research paper that described the process. It is one of a number of so-called “antisense” technologies that help suppress natural genetic expression and provide a mechanism for suppressing undesirable genetic behaviors. RNAi’s appeal is simple: it can potentially provide a temporary, reversible off switch for genes. Unlike most other genetic modification techniques, it doesn’t require making permanent changes to the underlying genome of the target. Instead, specialized siRNAs – chemical DNA blockers based on the same mechanism our own bodies use to temporarily turn genes on and off as needed – are delivered into the target organism and act to block the messages cells use to express a particular gene. When those messages meet with their chemical opposites, they turn inert. And when all of the siRNA is used up, the effect wears off. The new wheat is in early-stage field trials (i.e., it’s been planted to grow somewhere, but has not yet been tested for human consumption), part of a multi-year process on its way to potential approval and not unlike the rigorous process many drugs go through. The researchers responsible are using RNAi to turn down the production of glycogen. They are targeting the production of the wheat branching enzyme which, if suppressed, would result in a much lower starch level for the wheat. The result would be a grain with a lower glycemic index – i.e., healthier wheat. This is a noble goal. However, Professors Heinemann and Carman warn, there’s a risk that the gene silencing done to these plants might make its way into humans and wreak havoc on our bodies. In their press conference and subsequent papers, they describe the possibility that the siRNA molecules – which are pretty hardy little chemicals and not easily gotten rid of – could wind up interacting with our RNA. If their theories prove true, the results might be as bad as mimicking glycogen storage disease IV, a super-rare genetic disorder which almost always leads to early childhood death. “Franken-Wheat Causes Massive Deaths from Liver Failure!” Now that is potentially headline-grabbing stuff. Unfortunately, much of it is mere speculation at this point, albeit rooted in scientific expertise on the subject. What they’ve produced is a series of opinion papers – not scientific research nor empirical data to prove that what they suspect might happen, actually does. They point to the possibilities that could happen if a number of criteria are met: If the siRNAs remain in the wheat in transferrable form, in large quantities, when the grain makes it to your plate. And… If the siRNA molecules interfere with the somewhat different but largely similar human branching enzyme as well. Then the result might be symptoms similar to such a condition, on some scale or another, anywhere from completely unnoticeable to highly impactful. They further postulate that if the same effect is seen in animals, it could result in devastating ecological impact. Dead bugs and dead wild animals. Luckily for us, as potential consumers of these foods, all of these are easily testable theories. And this is precisely the type of data the lengthy approval process is meant to look at. Opinion papers like this – while not to be confused with conclusions resulting from solid research – are a critically important part of the scientific process, challenging researchers to provide hard data on areas that other experts suspect could be overlooked. Professors Carman and Heinemann provide a very important public good in challenging the strength of the due-diligence process for RNAi’s use in agriculture, an incomplete subject we continue to discover more about every day. However, we’ll have to wait until the data come back on this particular experiment – among thousands of similar ones being conducted at government labs, universities, and in the research facilities of commercial agribusinesses like Monsanto and Cargill – to know if this wheat variety would in fact result in a dietary apocalypse. That’s a notion many anti-genetically modified organism (GMO) pundits seem to have latched onto following the press conference the professors held. But if the history of modern agriculture can teach us anything, it’s that far more aggressive forms of GMO foods appear to have had a huge net positive effect on the global economy and our lives. Not only have they not killed us, in many ways GMO foods have been responsible for the massive increases in public health and quality of life around the world. The Roots of the GMO Food Debate The debate over genetically modified (GM) food is a heated one. Few contest that we are working in somewhat murky waters when it comes to genetically modified anything, human or plant alike. At issue, really, is the question of whether we are prepared to use the technologies we’ve discovered. In other words, are we the equivalent of a herd of monkeys armed with bazookas, unable to comprehend the sheer destructive power we possess yet perfectly capable of pulling the trigger? Or do we simply face the same type of daunting intellectual challenge as those who discovered fire, electricity, or even penicillin, at a time when the tools to fully understand how they worked had not yet been conceived of? In all of those cases, we were able to probe, study, and learn the mysteries of these incredible discoveries over time. Sure, there were certainly costly mistakes along the way. But we were also able to make great use of them to advance civilization long before we fully understood how they worked at a scientific level. Much is the same in the study and practical use of GM foods. While the fundamentals of DNA have been well understood for decades, we are still in the process of uncovering many of the inner workings of what is arguably the single most advanced form of programming humans have ever encountered. It is still very much a rapidly evolving science to this day. For example, in the 1990s, an idea known simply as “gene therapy” – really a generalized term for a host of new-at-the-time experimental techniques that share the simple characteristic of permanently modifying the genetic make-up of an organism – was all the rage in medical study. Two decades on, it’s hardly ever spoken of. That’s because the great majority of attempted disease therapies from genetic modification failed, with many resulting in terrible side effects and even death for the patients who underwent the treatments. Its use in the early days, of course, was limited almost exclusively to some of the world’s most debilitating, genetically rooted diseases. Still – whether in their zeal to use a fledgling tool to cure a dreadful malady or in selfish, hurried desire to be recognized among the pioneers of what they thought would be the very future of medicine – doctors chose to move forward at a dangerous pace with gene therapy. In one famous case, and somewhat typical of the times, University of Pennsylvania physicians enrolled a sick 18-year-old boy with a liver mutation into a trial for a gene therapy that was known to have resulted in the deaths of some of the monkeys it had just been tested on. The treatment resulted in the young man’s death a few days later, and the lengthy investigation that followed resulted in serious accusations of what can only be called “cowboy medicine.” Not one of science’s prouder moments, to be sure. But could GM foods be following the same dangerous path? After all, the first GM foods made their way to market during the same time period. The 1980s saw large-scale genetic-science research and experimentation from agricultural companies, producing everything from antibiotic-resistant tobacco to pesticide-hardy corn. After much debate and study, in 1994 the FDA gave approval to the first GM food to be sold in the United States: the ironically named Flavr Savr tomato, with its delayed ripening genes which made it an ideal candidate for sitting for days or weeks on grocery store shelves. Ever since, there has been a seeming rush of modified foods into the marketplace. Modern GM foods include soybeans, corn, cotton, canola, sugar beets, and a number of squash and greens varieties, as well as products made from them. One of the most prevalent modifications is to make plants glyphosate-resistant, or in common terms, “Roundup Ready.” This yields varieties that are able to stand up to much heavier doses of the herbicide Roundup, which is used to keep weeds and other pest plants from damaging large monoculture fields, thereby reducing costs and lowering risks. In total it is estimated that modern GM crops have grown to become a $12 billion annual business since their commercialization in 1994, according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA). Over 15 million farms around the world are reported to have grown GM crops, and their popularity increases every year. They’ve brought huge improvements in shelf life, pathogen and other stress resistance, and even added nutritional benefits. For instance, yellow rice – which was the first approved crop with an entirely new genetic pathway added artificially – provides beta-carotene to a large population of people around the world who otherwise struggle to find enough in their diets. However, the race for horticulturalists to the genetic table in the past few decades – what could be described accurately as the transgenic generation of research – has by no means been our first experiment with the genetic manipulation of food. In fact, if anything, it is a more deliberate, well studied, and careful advance than those that came before it. A VERY Brief History of Genetically Modified Food Some proponents of GMO foods are quick to point out that humans have been modifying foods at the genetic level since the dawn of agriculture itself. We crossbreed plants with each other to produce hybrids (can I interest you in a boysenberry?). And of course, we select our crops for breeding from those with the most desirable traits, effectively encouraging genetic mutations that would have otherwise resulted in natural failure, if not helped along by human hands. Corn as we know it, for example, would never have survived in nature without our help in breeding it. Using that as a justification for genetic meddling, however, is like saying we know that NASCAR drivers don’t need seatbelts because kids have been building soapbox racers without them for years. Nature, had the mix not been near ideal to begin with, would have prevented such crossbreeding. Despite Hollywood’s desires, one can’t simply crossbreed a human and a fly, or even a bee and a mosquito, for that matter – their genetics are too different to naturally mix. And even if it did somehow occur, if it did not make for a hardier result, then natural selection would have quickly kicked in. No, I am talking about real, scientific genetic mucking – the kind we imagined would result in the destruction of the world from giant killer tomatoes or man-eating cockroaches in our B-grade science-fiction films. Radiation mutants. Enterprising agrarians have been blasting plants with radiation of all sorts ever since we started messing around with atomic science at the dawn of the 20th century. In the 1920s, just when Einstein and Fermi were getting in their grooves, Dr. Lewis Stadler at the University of Missouri was busy blasting barley seeds with X-rays – research that would usher in a frenzy of mutation breeding to follow. With the advent of nuclear technology from the war effort, X-rays expanded into atomic radiation, with the use of gamma rays leading the pack. The United States even actively encouraged the practice for decades, through a program dubbed “Atoms for Peace” that proliferated nuclear technology throughout various parts of the private sector in a hope that it would improve the lives of many. And it did. Today, thousands of agricultural varieties we take for granted – including, according to a 2007 New York Times feature on the practice, “rice, wheat, barley, pears, peas, cotton, peppermint, sunflowers, peanuts, grapefruit, sesame, bananas, cassava and sorghum” – are a direct result of mutation breeding. They would not be classified as GM foods, in the sense that we did not use modern transgenic techniques to make them, but they are genetically altered nonetheless, to the same or greater degree than most modern GMO strains. Unlike modern GM foods – which are often closely protected by patents and armies of lawyers to ensure the inventing companies reap maximum profits from their use – the overwhelming majority of the original generations of radiation-mutated plant varieties came out of academic and government sponsored research, and thus were provided free and clear for farmers to use without restriction. With the chemical revolution of the mid-20th century, radiation-based mutations were followed by the use of chemical agents like the methyl sulfate family of mutagens. And after that, the crudest forms of organic genetic manipulation came into use, such as the uses of transposons, highly repetitive strands of DNA discovered in 1948 that can be used like biological duct tape to cover whole sections the genome. These modified crops stood up better to pests, lessened famines, reduced reliance on pesticides, and most of all enabled farmers to increase their effective yields. Coupled with the development of commercial machinery like tractors and harvesters, the rise of mutagenic breeding resulted in an agricultural revolution of a magnitude few truly appreciate. In the late 1800s, the overwhelming majority of global populations lived in rural areas, and most people spent their lives in agrarian pursuits. From subsistence farmers to small commercial operations, the majority of the population of every country, the US included, was employed in agriculture. Today, less than 2% of the American population (legal and illegal combined) works in farming of any kind. Yet we have more than enough food to feed all of our people, and a surplus to export to more densely populated nations like China and India. The result is that a sizable percentage of the world’s plant crops today – the ones on top of which much of the modern-era GMO experiments are done – are already genetic mutants. Hence the slippery slope that serves as the foundation of the resistance from regulators over the labeling of GM food products. Where do you draw the line on what to label? And frankly, how do you even know for sure, following the Wild-West days of blasting everything that could grow with some form or another of radiation, what plants are truly virgin DNA? The world’s public is largely unaware that many of the foods they eat today – far more than those targeted by anti-GMO protestors and labeling advocates – are genetically modified. Yet we don’t seem to be dying off in large numbers, like the anti-RNAi researchers project will happen. In fact, global lifespans have increased dramatically across the board in the last century. The Rise of Careful The science of GM food has advanced considerably since the dark ages of the 1920s. Previous versions of mutation breeding were akin to trying to fix a pair of eyeglasses with a sledgehammer – messy and imprecise, with rare positive results. And the outputs of those experiments were often foisted upon a public without any knowledge or understanding of what they were consuming. Modern-day GM foods are produced with a much more precise toolset, which means less unintended collateral damage. Of course it also opens up a veritable Pandora’s box of new possibilities (glow-in-the-dark corn, anyone?) and with it a whole host of potential new risks. Like any sufficiently powerful technology, such as the radiation and harsh chemicals used in prior generations of mutation breeding, without careful control over its use, the results can be devastating. This fact is only outweighed by the massive improvements over the prior, messier generation of techniques. And thus, regulatory regimes from the FDA to CSIRO to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) are taking increasing steps to ensure that GM foods are thoroughly tested long before they come to market. In many ways, the tests are far more rigorous than those that prescription drugs undergo, as the target population is not sick and in need of urgent care, and for which side effects can be tolerated. This is why a great many of the proposed GM foods of the last 20 years, including the controversial “suicide seeds” meant to protect the intellectual property of the large GM seed producers like Monsanto (which bought out Calgene, the inventor of that Flavr Savr tomato, and is now the 800-lb. gorilla of the GM food business), were never allowed to market. Still, with the 15 years from 1996 to 2011 seeing a 96-fold increase in the amount of land dedicated to growing GM crops and the incalculable success of the generations of pre-transgenic mutants before them, scientists and corporations are still in a mad sprint to find the next billion-dollar GM blockbuster. In doing so they are seeking tools that make the discovery of such breakthroughs faster and more reliable. With RNAi, they may just have found one such tool. If it holds true to its laboratory promises, its benefits will be obvious from all sides. Unlike previous generations of GMO, RNAi-treated crops do not need to be permanently modified. This means that mutations which outlive their usefulness, like resistance to a plague which is eradicated, do not need to live on forever. This allows companies to be more responsive, and potentially provides a big relief to consumers concerned about the implications of eating foods with permanent genetic modifications. The simple science of creating RNAi molecules is also attractive to people who develop these new agricultural products, as once a messenger RNA is identified, there is a precise formula to tell you exactly how to shut it off, potentially saving millions or even billions of dollars that would be spent in the research lab trying to figure out exactly how to affect a particular genetic process. And with the temporary nature of the technique, both the farmers and the Monsantos of the world can breathe easily over the huge intellectual-property questions of how to deal with genetically altered seeds. Not to mention the questions of natural spread of strains between farms who might not want GMO crops in their midst. Instead of needing to engineer in complex genetic functions to ensure progeny don’t pass down enhancements for free and that black markets in GMO seeds don’t flourish, the economic equation becomes as simple as fertilizer: use it or don’t. While RNAi is not a panacea for GMO scientists – it serves as an off switch, but cannot add new traits nor even turn on dormant ones – the dawn of antisense techniques is likely to mean an even further acceleration of the science of genetic meddling in agriculture. Its tools are more precise even than many of the most recent permanent genetic-modification methods. And the temporary nature of the technique – the ability to apply it selectively as needed versus breeding it directly into plants which may not benefit from the change decades on – is sure to please farmers, and maybe even consumers as well. That is, unless the scientists in Australia are proven correct, and the siRNAs used in experiments today make their way into humans and affect the same genetic functions in us as they do in the plants. The science behind their assertions still needs a great deal of testing. Much of their assertion defies the basic understanding of how siRNA molecules are delivered – an incredibly difficult and delicate process that has been the subject of hundreds of millions of dollars of research thus far, and still remains, thanks to our incredible immune systems, a daunting challenge in front of one of the most promising forms of medicine (and now of farming too). Still, their perspective is important food for thought… and likely fuel for much more debate to come. After all, even if you must label your products as containing GMO-derived ingredients, does that apply if you just treated an otherwise normal plant with a temporary, consumable, genetic on or off switch? In theory, the plant which ends up on your plate is once again genetically no different than the one which would have been on your plate had no siRNAs been used during its formative stages. One thing is sure: the GMO food train left the station nearly a century ago and is now a very big business that will continue to grow and to innovate, using RNAi and other techniques to come. The Casey Extraordinary Technology team has been tracking the leading lights of the RNAi medical industry for some time. Recently, one of our small biotech upstarts struck a potentially massive, exclusive deal with an agricultural giant to seed its own RNAi research program. Success could mean billions for both firms. If you’d like to know what company we believe will profit most from the next generation of GM food development, subscribe to CET. Bits & Bytes Last Chance for RIM? (CNN Money) Few companies have been written off as frequently as Research in Motion, whose Blackberry was once state of the art and which now finds itself fighting for its life. Its stock just soared 9% merely because it said release of the new Blackberry 10 is still on schedule for early next year. Whether the 10 will be able to put a dent into the Apple/Android monolith remains to be seen, but for RIM it could be the last, best hope. Giant Media Merger (LA Times) What do you get when you mate Han Solo with Minnie Mouse? We’re about to find out – fiscally, if not physically – with Tuesday’s announcement that Disney is acquiring Lucasfilm for a cool $4 billion. Disney is projecting it’ll get its money back within three years, while George is, well, retiring – as he is now well able to do. Google Settles Final AdWords Dispute (Ars Technica) Several companies have taken Google to court over AdWords, saying Google shouldn’t be allowed to key advertisements to their names, which are protected trademarks. The last and one of the most persistent has been Rosetta Stone, a language-software maker that sued Google in 2009, but lost in federal court. However, its case was revived on appeal, and yesterday it finally was settled on confidential terms. How Easy Is a Tablet to Use? (TechCrunch) Pretty damn easy, as it turns out. In a remarkable experiment, OLPC (One Laptop per Child) researchers in Ethiopia handed a Motorola Xoom tablet to each of a group of illiterate village children aged four to eight. Click the link to learn the amazing results.last_img read more

Leaders can have many different styles — just comp

first_imgLeaders can have many different styles — just compare President Donald Trump to Malala Yousafzai to your boss or the coach of your kid’s soccer team.But a study published Thursday suggests that people who end up in leadership roles of various sorts all share one key trait: Leaders make decisions for a group in the same way that they make decisions for themselves. They don’t change their decision-making behavior, even when other people’s welfare is at stake.That may come as a bit of surprise, given that most lists of key leadership qualities focus on things like charisma and communication skills.”Previous research has mostly focused on these kinds of either personality characteristics of a leader, or situations where individuals are likely to lead,” says Micah Edelson, a neuroscientist at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. “But we don’t know much about the cognitive or neurobiological process that is happening when you are choosing to lead or follow — when you’re faced with this choice to lead or follow.”He notes that the decisions of leaders can affect the lives of many others. “It’s not always that easy to make such a choice, and it’s something that could be even a little bit aversive to you, to make a choice that impacts other people,” says Edelson. “And there are some people that seem to be able to do it; some people don’t. So we were interested in looking at that.”He and his colleagues had volunteers come to the lab, and gave them questionnaires that are widely used to predict whether someone is likely to be in a position of leadership. They also collected information about people’s real-world leadership experience, such as what rank they’d achieved in the military (which is compulsory for men in Switzerland) or in the popular Swiss Scouts organization.Then they put the participants into small groups and had them play a series of games in which individuals had to make choices about whether to take a risky action to get a reward.”These are choices about uncertain gambles that have some probability of success and potential gains and losses,” Edelson explains.The player could choose to either make the choice alone, or defer the decision to a majority vote.The games were played under two conditions: Sometimes the decision affected only the individual player’s winnings and other times the decision affected what the entire group received.What the researchers found is that people in general tended to avoid taking responsibility for what happens to others; deferral rates were the highest when decisions affected other people’s pocketbooks.But the people who changed their decision-making behavior the least were the ones who generally served as leaders in the real-world and scored high on leadership questionnaires. Unlike others, they did not require more certainty before being ready to personally make a decision that would affect the whole group.”On average, people tend to increase the certainty threshold when the choices affect the entire group. But higher-scoring leaders just keep their thresholds almost constant,” says Edelson, who says preliminary work using MRI brain scanning supports the idea that leaders and followers differ in how their brains process information about gains, losses, and risk in the context of thinking about others.Other neuroscientists say the work, published in the journal Science, is fascinating.”It seems a very reasonable finding,” says Tali Sharot, a cognitive neuroscientist at University College London. “It works with our intuition, but in the same way it’s not something that you’d necessarily think about that distinguishes leadership.”Sharot cautions that it’s not clear whether this decision-making behavior is what led people to their leadership position, or if they’ve developed it as a result of real-world leadership experience.And this study doesn’t say anything about who ends up being a “good” leader, either.But Sharot says the researchers have identified something about leadership that can hold true regardless of a leader’s style.”You can have authoritarian leaders who like to have the ultimate control,” she says. “You can have democratic leaders who want to lead according to the will of the people. You have leaders who are risk-takers, leaders who are risk-adverse and conservative and so on.”But what’s really interesting about this work, she says, is that these different types of leaders’ decision-making behavior stays the same regardless of whether the outcome affects only themselves or other people. “What this paper shows is that all these types of individuals, all these types of leaders, have something in common.” Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.last_img read more

US Surgeon General Jerome Adams made a plea in A

first_imgU.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams made a plea in April for more Americans to be prepared to administer naloxone, an opioid antidote, in case they or people close to them suffer an overdose.”The call to action is to recognize if you’re at risk,” Adams told NPR’s Rachel Martin. “And if you or a loved one are at risk, keep within reach, know how to use naloxone.”Nearly every state has made it easier for people to get naloxone by allowing pharmacists to dispense the drug without an individual prescription. Public health officials are able to write what are called standing orders, essentially prescriptions that cover everyone in their jurisdiction.Some states require training in how to use naloxone, typically given as a nasal spray called Narcan or with an EpiPen-like automatic injection, in order for someone to pick up naloxone. But the medicine is simple to use either way.After the surgeon general called for more people to be prepared with naloxone, we decided to ask Americans about their knowledge about the opioid antidote’s availability, attitudes toward using it and experience with the medicine in the latest NPR-IBM Watson Health Health Poll. The survey queried more than 3,000 households nationwide in May.We wondered how many people know about naloxone and the fact that someone doesn’t have to be a medical professional to administer it. Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they were aware of the antidote and that it could be given by laypeople; 41 percent said they weren’t.We then asked people who knew about naloxone if they would need a prescription to get it. The answers were pretty evenly divided among three options: yes, no and not sure/no response.”Why, with all the attention we’ve had in the media, why don’t more Americans know about naloxone?” asks Dr. Anil Jain, vice president and chief health information officer for IBM Watson Health. “When people did know, why did people think they needed a prescription?” While the survey doesn’t get at the causes, Jain says, the findings underscore the need for greater public awareness.Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen says the lack of knowledge among Americans at large isn’t all that surprising. “Policy alone is necessary but not sufficient,” she says. “People still don’t know to go to the pharmacy to get access to naloxone, especially individuals at the highest risk.”To change that, she says, “you have to have continued education and the delivery of services” where people need them.In Baltimore, the health department maps where overdoses are happening and sends outreach workers to the areas. But money is an issue, even at a negotiated cost of $75 per naloxone kit, Wen says. There isn’t enough naloxone to go around. “Every week we take stock of how many naloxone kits we have for the rest of fiscal year,” she says. “Who’s at most risk? Those are who we give the naloxone to.”The NPR-IBM Watson Health Poll asked people if they would be willing to use Narcan, the nasal spray form of naloxone, to help a person who had overdosed. Fifty-eight percent said they would and 29 percent said no. Thirteen precent weren’t sure or didn’t respond. Only 47 percent of people 65 and older said they would be willing to do it.When asked about the auto-injector option, 68 percent of respondents said they would be willing to administer naloxone that way and 22 percent of people said they wouldn’t be.Finally, we asked whether people had obtained naloxone, and 10 percent said they or someone in their household had. Among those people, 81 percent said the naloxone had been used, but the sample size for this question was small, making interpretation difficult.The nationwide poll has an overall margin of error of plus or minus 1.8 percentage points. You can find the questions and full results here. Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.last_img read more

A disabled campaigner who is battling to protect t

first_imgA disabled campaigner who is battling to protect the rights of wheelchair-users to travel on buses has won permission for his appeal to be heard by the Supreme Court.Doug Paulley (pictured) has been told by the court that it will hear his discrimination case – which is backed by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) – against transport company First Bus.Paulley, from Wetherby, took the case against First Bus following an incident in February 2012.He had been planning to travel to Leeds, but was prevented from entering the bus because the driver refused to insist that a mother with a pushchair should move from the wheelchair space.He told Disability News Service that he was “relieved” and “really glad” about the Supreme Court’s decision, although it is unlikely to be heard until the latter part of 2016 at the earliest.He said: “It would have been a travesty if they had not [agreed to hear the appeal], given the huge support from lots of disabled people and that [the appeal] is being bank-rolled by the EHRC.”Paulley said the case wouldn’t have got so far “without so many disabled people sticking their necks out and campaigning around it and making it such a public issue”.And he said the case going to the Supreme Court would “certainly make a lot of people think and talk about it”.He said he now rarely used buses because of the effect the “extra layer of stress” caused by the incident – and the uncertainty he now feels when he uses a bus – had had on his mental health problems.Disabled campaigners were left “appalled” in December when three court of appeal judges found in favour of First Bus, and against Paulley.That judgement over-turned a county court ruling that wheelchair-users should have priority in the use of dedicated wheelchair spaces over parents with pushchairs, and that the “first come, first served” policy of First Bus breached the Equality Act.Instead, the court of appeal said that a bus driver needs only to request – and not demand – that a buggy-user vacates the space if it is needed by a wheelchair-user.A First Bus spokesman said today (Thursday): “The court of appeal decision in 2014 gave our customers, drivers and the wider industry much-needed clarification around the priority use of the wheelchair space on board buses.“The court’s judgment endorsed our current policy, which is to ask other passengers in the strongest polite terms to make way for wheelchair-users.“We note Mr Paulley has been given permission to appeal the court of appeal decision.  We will continue to make the case that our current policy both complies with the law and remains the most practical solution for all concerned.”The importance of Paulley’s case was highlighted this week when it was mentioned several times in the first evidence session of a committee set up by the House of Lords to examine the impact of the Equality Act 2010 on disabled people.The Conservative peer Lord Northbrook was one of those who mentioned the Paulley case, when he questioned whether the law on service-providers’ duties to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people was “sufficiently precise”.Meanwhile, on the same day that the Supreme Court announced its decision, campaigners revealed that another transport company, National Express, had scrapped its own “first come, first served” policy on its buses, and replaced it with a wheelchair priority policy.The move followed a question asked by disabled athlete Susan Cook at the company’s annual general meeting (AGM) on 6 May, after which she had secured a meeting with two of the company’s top executives.Cook was supported by the user-led, campaigning charity Transport for All, and ShareAction, which helps people attend company meetings and raise issues with directors.Cook said: “It was great to use my power as a shareholder to secure a meeting with the company and persuade them to change their policy.“I’m glad National Express saw sense on this issue and I’m looking forward to going to more AGMs to raise disability rights issues in future.”Lianna Etkind, campaigns and outreach coordinator at Transport for All, said: “Being able to use public transport is an essential part of a full and active life, getting to work, having access to healthcare and education, or a social life, with freedom and independence.“We’re pleased National Express listened to reason and have decided to change their policy on wheelchair priority. It was great to work with Susan and ShareAction to bring about this change.”National Express has already announced plans to introduce a “turn up and go” service on its c2c train services in Essex from September, so disabled people needing assistance will be able to arrive at stations and have staff help them, without needing to book in advance.National Express will be the first private train company to offer this service in the UK and has also pledged to be the first train operator to make a route completely accessible.last_img read more

Picture by DPAC

first_imgPicture by DPAC Disabled activists were locked inside the Department for Work and Pensions’ headquarters by security guards as they delivered thousands of copies of a newspaper that feature “deliberately misleading” DWP adverts which “whitewash” the truth about universal credit.Protesters from Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) were unable to leave Caxton House in Westminster for several minutes yesterday (Wednesday) when security guards locked the building’s front doors behind them after they entered the main lobby.They had entered the building to deliver a letter to work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd, in which they asked her to explain why she had spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on an advertising campaign in the free Metro newspaper that features “one-sided adverts whitewashing the disastrous Universal Credit policy”.They also delivered about 10 boxes of copies of yesterday’s Metro (pictured), which features the latest Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) advertising feature on universal credit (UC), and which activists had removed from distribution points at train stations and on buses across the capital.Soon after their arrival, DWP security guards locked the front entrance and threatened to call the police, even though the action had been peaceful and focused only on delivering the newspapers and the letter to Rudd.The doors were eventually unlocked several minutes later after one of the activists had a panic attack.The letter to Rudd was finally accepted, and although DWP initially refused to accept the boxes of newspapers, they were later taken inside after being left outside the department’s front entrance.In the letter, DPAC and allies from Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group asked Rudd “why, when Universal Credit is causing so much suffering and distress, your department chose to throw money at this shameless exercise”.They added: “We hope that the enclosed materials will provide food for thought as you prepare your response to claimants staring into empty cupboards trying to work out how they can feed themselves and their children, and all those who are wondering why the taxes we pay for collective provision of services are being used in such an inappropriate attempt to rewrite the story of this disastrous policy.”Paula Peters, a member of DPAC’s national steering group, who took part in the action, said: “They are discrediting people’s real testimonies of going through universal credit.“I have been outside jobcentres and have spoken to claimants who have been driven to prostitution, destitution and homelessness by universal credit.”She added: “We will continue to expose their lies and total fabrications and we have to get the truth out there with thorough research and with people’s personal testimonies.”Yesterday’s action, including the hire of a van to deliver the newspapers, was paid for through a crowdfunding effort launched by Sheffield DPAC, which is set to pay for further such actions.As DPAC was delivering its copies of the Metro to DWP in London, disabled activists and allies in other parts of the country, including Sheffield and Bristol, posted photographs of copies of the Metro being removed from their distribution points, as part of the ongoing #DumpMetroDWPLies campaign.A spokesperson for Sheffield DPAC – which has played a significant role in the national campaign – said anger about the Metro adverts was growing, and she thanked those who had donated to the fund.She said the Metro adverts were “propaganda” and “a deliberate attempt to manipulate public perception” of universal credit.She said: “I implore people, whether they are claimants or not, to support the #DumpMetroDWPLies campaign against the DWP advertorials.“People have to be aware that once the government have done targeting us that they will move on to someone else.“We need to act, we need to stand up, we need to stop this, and we absolutely must do it together.”Meanwhile, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has confirmed that it is investigating the way the DWP advertising features have been published by the Metro.Disability News Service (DNS) confirmed last month that DWP breached Civil Service guidelines when it decided to launch the nine-week series of “unethical and misleading” Metro advertorials without including a government logo.And this week DNS passed a screen shot to ASA showing the home page of the Metro’s website, which featured several UC adverts designed to look like a newspaper investigation and which disguise their DWP origin.None of the adverts on the website mentioned they were designed and paid for by DWP, which appears to be a breach of ASA rules.Leaked DWP documents have revealed that the adverts were always designed to be misleading and not to “look or feel like DWP or UC”.An ASA spokesperson said: “We’re currently assessing a number of complaints relating to these ads, including complaints that challenge whether the ads are obviously identifiable as marketing communications.“We will establish whether there are grounds for further action in due course.”Meanwhile, the Disability Benefits Consortium of charities has written to ASA to complain about the “deliberately misleading” advertising features.The letter dismantles several of the claims made in the adverts, including the claim that it is a “myth” that “Universal Credit doesn’t work”, telling ASA: “These statements omit the thousands of claimants universal credit does not ‘work for’ but instead has driven them into debt, rent arrears, foodbanks, and homelessness.”A DWP spokesperson told DNS: “Our position is that all our advertising is factual and designed to increase understanding of Universal Credit.“We consulted the Advertising Standards Authority prior to launching the partnership and have reflected their advice.“We’ve not got anything further to add.”On the DPAC action at Caxton House, she said: “You can understand that we’re in a government building, so a group of non-staff members quickly entering the building with large parcels is an obvious security concern.“Security dealt with the incident quickly and the activists were able to leave the parcels outside the front door, without the need for further action.”She had already declined to comment when asked what DWP planned to do with the thousands of Metros delivered to Rudd. A note from the editor:Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations. Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please note that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring and has been from its launch in April 2009. Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS…last_img read more